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William Leggett receives prestigious lifetime achievement award

Dr. William Leggett.

William Leggett, professor emeritus in the Department of Biology and Queen's 17th principal, has received the H. Ahlstrom Lifetime Achievement Award from the Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society for his contributions to the fields of larval fish ecology.

The American Fisheries Society is the biggest association of professional aquatic ecologists in the world, with over 9,000 members worldwide.

"œIt feels good to be singled out by such large group of people who I respect so highly," says Dr. Leggett. "œI didn'™t expect to receive this award so it'™s a big honour and thrill to get it."

Dr. Leggett'™s research focuses on the dynamics of fish populations and his work as a biologist and a leader in education has been recognized nationally and internationally. A membership in the Order of Canada, a fellowship from the Royal Society of Canada, and the Award of Excellence in Fisheries Education are just some of the awards he has received for outstanding contributions to graduate education and marine science.

The Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society recognized Dr. Leggett'™s "œexceptional contributions to the understanding of early life history of fishes that has inspired the careers of a number of fisheries scientists worldwide and has led to major progress in fish ecology and studies of recruitment dynamics."

The award was recently presented in Quebec City at the 38th annual Larval Fish Conference held in conjunction with the 144th annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society.


To change coronavirus behaviours, think like a marketer

A couple wear facemasks and glasses
Wearing masks in public is the new norm, however, there remains some significant resistance and rates of COVID-19 infection continue to rise rapidly across the United States, as well as among Canadians aged 20-29. (Unsplash / Nathan Dumlao)

COVID-19 has been a humbling experience. From a frayed pandemic early-warning system to a shortage of personal protective equipment for front-line workers, public health experts have been playing catch up.

But it has also been a teachable moment. We now know, for example, that the usual approaches to convince fellow citizens to prioritize societal well-being over personal desires are not working. Rates of COVID-19 infection continue to rise rapidly across the United States, but also among Canadians aged 20-29. Public health messaging is clearly not convincing this age cohort to change behaviours.

This is a call to action for social marketing to evolve and leverage powerful behavioural and technological tools that successfully engage hard-to-reach groups. There is compelling evidence from here in Canada that such an approach can work.

Social marketing applies commercial marketing technologies to motivate voluntary social behaviour. These techniques have been used to boost home-based recycling, safe sex, to encourage people to quit smoking and use seat belts, among many other behaviours.

Good social marketing is more important than ever, particularly during a pandemic. In general, however, public health officials have been slow to adopt approaches that have been used successfully in the for-profit world.

The four Ps

In marketing, the shorthand for selling a product or service is “the four Ps”: product, promotion, price and place. Social marketing takes the perspective that selling an idea can be approached in the same way. This includes aligning and customizing messages to specific audiences, rather than assuming everyone will respond the same way.

In the case of COVID-19, data suggest that people don’t share the same perceptions of risk, and this can be seen in their individual behaviour and resistance to public health messages. Similarly, there is a mismatch between the audience and medium. The current approach of relying on traditional news outlets and advertising, media releases and news conferences to communicate critical COVID-19 information is not proving effective at reaching younger adults.

Think of the difference among law, public health and marketing as sticks, promises and carrots. During COVID-19, there have been lots of sticks and promises (“stay home, stay safe”) and not much in the way of carrots. But carrots are needed.

Being confined to your home is a fundamentally unpalatable product for people for whom isolation is a significant psychological burden. Families with small children that are struggling with working, teaching and general caretaking and need specific guidance on how to meet child-care needs safely. Everyone needs access to outdoor space for transportation and recreation, regardless of preferred activity, especially when those correlate with income and race.

At the outset, little attention was paid to recognizing and addressing these barriers to compliance with the desired behaviour. Yet we have a Canadian example of how to take a complicated issue and break down barriers, in the context of physical activity.

Worldwide leader

ParticipAction has been a worldwide leader for decades in presenting a range of possible activities that people can do in small bursts throughout the day or week to meet recommended guidelines, all without having a gym membership or being part of organized sports.

By recognizing barriers that prevented people from being active, it opened up possibilities to Canadians who considered the product and place of physical activity unattractive.

The social marketing version of price has always been the most challenging of the four Ps to tackle. It is difficult for individuals to change a behaviour they enjoy or one that provides personal benefit, especially when such change may not benefit them directly.

But the behavioural economic concept of “nudging” that includes small financial incentives has proven to be financially more efficient than expensive advertising campaigns in convincing people to change behaviour.

Our research on a now-defunct made-in-Canada mobile app demonstrates the potential for using cutting-edge commercial marketing techniques and technologies to tackle the challenges of social marketing.

Carrot Rewards was a mobile app that gave users points from their loyalty program (such as Aeroplan, Scene and Petro Points) immediately after they completed a health intervention, such as completing an educational quiz, getting information about the flu shot or walking a certain distance or length of time. (Carrot Rewards folded in June 2019 but was purchased later that year by a technology firm with a plan to relaunch the wellness app.)

A woman shops while wearing a mask.
Social marketing applies commercial marketing technologies to motivate voluntary social behaviour. These techniques have been used to boost home-based recycling and encourage people to quit smoking. (Unsplash / Arturo Rey)

Canadians love their loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are tremendously popular in Canada. Some 90 per cent of Canadians are enrolled in at least one program. Studies show that, on average, there are four programs per person and 13 per household.

Carrot Rewards leveraged the desire for small financial incentives (in the form of reward points for movies, groceries and the like), and attracted an engaged and involved audience.

It employed a digital platform that allowed for customizable content and high message complexity. Using multiple choice “quizzes” of five to seven questions each, it both involved users through gamification as well as provided additional information on the topic in question.

The app was also able to target content to specific audiences based on demographic characteristics and answers to previous quizzes, as well as track physical movement and location via a smart watch or smartphone.

Engagement stayed high

With an existing base of 1.1 million users across Ontario, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador — and 500,000 active monthly users — Carrot could have quickly expanded into other provinces as a key component of an integrated federal COVID-19 campaign for education, contact tracing and possibly even symptom tracking.

Our research has demonstrated that Carrot rapidly attracted and enrolled users, and maintained consistently high levels of user engagement over time, even as rewards diminished. That engagement remained high even at a modest average reward per user of 1.5 cents per day. The age and demographics of the users varied by loyalty program, and the app provided a relatively representative cross-section of Canadian society in terms of education, income and urban/rural/suburban locations.

All in all, Carrot showed impressive results.

Financial sustainability challenges aside, policy-makers and public health officials would be wise to consider maintaining this modern, data-driven approach to social marketing in their tool box. It would not only prove tremendously useful in the COVID-19 era, but it would place Canada at the forefront of innovation in social marketing around the world.The Conversation


Monica C. LaBarge, Assistant Professor, Marketing, Smith School of Business at Queen's University and Jacob Brower, Associate Professor and Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Marketing, Smith School of Business at Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Aging, long-term care, and COVID-19

Dean Jane Philpott and members of the Queen’s community discuss the lessons learned about senior care during the pandemic with the second installment of the Conversations Confronting COVID-19 series

Watch the discussion

Lessons learned during COVID-19

Queen’s had a record turnout as more than 800 viewers tuned in to last week’s Conversations Confronting COVID-19 virtual event on the topic of aging. Moderated by Dr. Jane Philpott, Dean of Health Sciences, the event brought together experts in healthcare, research, and policy-making to discuss lessons learned about Canada’s elderly population and long-term care during the coronavirus pandemic. The panel included Laura Tamblyn Watts, ArtSci’94, CEO of CanAge, Dr. John Puxty (Medicine), Dr. Catherine Donnelly (Rehabilitation Therapy), and Dr. Kevin Woo (Nursing and Rehabilitation Therapy).

While the event focused on the response to COVID-19, the participants brought unique research and policy perspectives to senior care issues and the challenges Ontario and Canada may face moving forward post-pandemic. The panelists, including Dr. Philpott, spoke from their experiences and specific expertise, having pivoted their research and attention to focus on COVID-19 related issues or joined the frontlines to deliver senior care during the crisis.

Major discussion topics included what the response to the pandemic has taught us about our emergency preparedness, our success rate in safeguarding vulnerable members of our society, and how COVID-19 will influence Canada’s long-term strategy for healthy aging. The panelists looked at diverse senior care models in Canada ranging from long-term care to retirement homes and aging at home or alternative non-institutional settings and their responses to COVID-19, along with guidance for those navigating these systems. In particular, they described the mental and physical effects of social isolation for both seniors and their family members and their current research to address this crucial issue.

In response to some of the 100+ questions posed by audience members, the experts reflected on the impact of COVID-19 within BIPOC communities and where policy and collaborative research are needed to support fair overall healthy aging for all Canadians. Throughout the conversation, the panelists also examined opportunities for a pan-Canadian approach to long-term care, integrating care and care teams where possible, investing in education and the workforce, and applying best practices from other provinces and countries for sector innovation.

Guidance and resources for senior care

Many viewers also asked insightful questions around policies, as well as shared personal experiences for guidance on matters such as supporting family caregivers. While the panelists could not respond to each question within the hour, they have provided a list of resources ranging from information about senior care programs and policy actions to ways for the community to get involved through the Queen’s Community Connections Project.

Additional Information

Conversations Confronting COVID-19

Queen’s University Relations and Advancement offices are currently planning additional events in the Conversations Confronting COVID-19 series for the fall. To learn more about upcoming alumni events, visit the Queen’s Alumni website, and for more information about how Queen’s researchers are combatting COVID-19 explore the Research@Queen’s website.

Researcher Ahmed E. Hassan honoured by world's largest organization devoted to computing professionals

Canada Research Chair Ahmed E. Hassan has received the New Directions Award from the IEEE Computer Society Technical Council on Software Engineering.

Queen’s researcher Dr. Ahmed E. Hassan (School of Computing) has been awarded the 2020 TCSE New Directions Award from the IEEE Computer Society Technical Council on Software Engineering, along with Dr. Thomas Zimmermann (Microsoft Research). The 2020 TCSE New Directions Award recognizes those whose research contributions have moved software engineering in new directions. 

Photograph of Ahmed E. Hassan
Ahmed E. Hassan

Hassan and Zimmerman established the field of Mining Software Repositories (MSR). Over the past two decades, MSR has advanced software engineering with innovations that have improved software engineering practices by uncovering interesting and valuable information about software systems and projects using vast amounts of technical and social data, such as run-time telemetry and personnel communication. Mining this valuable information has helped companies and open source projects worldwide improve software quality and developer efficiency. Today, the MSR conference is one of the top ten high impact venues in software engineering.

Dr. Hassan is an IEEE Fellow, an ACM SIGSOFT Influential Educator, an NSERC Steacie Fellow, and the Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Software Analytics. His research focuses on the intersection of systems and software engineering. Hassan leads the Software Analysis and Intelligence Lab (SAIL) at Queen’s, where his team investigates approaches and techniques to support practitioners who are producing, maintaining and evolving   large-scale complex software systems which will allow more efficiency and predictability in results. Early tools and techniques developed by Hassan's team have been integrated into products that have been used worldwide.

For more information on Dr. Hassan’s research visit, the SAIL lab website

Wooden skyscrapers could transform construction by trapping carbon emissions

Wood skyscraper in Norway
The Mjøstårnet, an 18-storey mixed-use building constructed with engineered wood, overlooks Norway’s largest lake, in Brumunddal. (Woodify/YouTube)

All over the world, architects and engineers are crafting cutting-edge skyscrapers from one of the most renewable and sustainable materials available to humanity — wood.

For the time being, the tallest wooden building in the world is the Mjøstårnet, an 18-storey building north of Oslo that houses offices, hotel rooms and apartments, and stands just over 85 metres in height.

Canada has several tall wooden towers, including Brock Commons at the University of British Columbia (18 storeys; 58 metres) and the Origine eco-condo development in Québec City (13 storeys). A number of other projects, such as the 10-storey Arbour at George Brown College’s Waterfront Campus, are under development.

For some, wood may seem an archaic and even dangerous choice for tall building construction compared to modern alternatives like concrete, steel and glass. But as emissions associated with tall buildings continue to rise, governments at all levels are looking for low-carbon, low-energy alternatives.

In Canada, buildings account for 12.7 per cent of national greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, buildings lead to 40 per cent of total emissions. For Canada, a country with abundant wood resources, investing in new tall wooden building construction is an opportunity for sustainable economic growth — but challenges remain.

Not your average log cabin

Today’s tall wooden buildings are different from the two-by-four wood framing usually seen in single-family homes or two- to four-storey condominium structures.

So-called “mass timber” construction is derived from old techniques of post-and-beam construction, but uses advanced technologies, including cross-laminated timbers (CLT) and laminated veneer lumber (LVL), which feature layers of wood bonded with adhesives and produced as either beams or panels. Some concrete and steel may be used around elevator shafts or stairwells in mass timber construction, but floors and beams may be made entirely of wood.

Structural wood products like CLT have a number of advantages in tall wooden building consruction: they are lighter than conventional materials, require less energy to make than either steel or concrete (and thus produce lower emissions), and can sequester carbon.

Their relative lightness makes it possible to assemble floor and wall sections off-site and ship them to the build site, significantly reducing the amount of building time required. For example, the on-site construction for the Origine project in Québec City was completed in only four months. Adopting tall wooden construction could greatly reduce the amount of disruption — dust, noise and traffic disruptions, for example - that construction brings to the urban landscape.

Building better, faster and greener

Prefabrication also means that building structures can be designed to maximize energy efficiency since individual components can be built precisely in a factory, minimizing errors and ensuring that measurements are exact.

Tall wooden buildings store carbon, preventing it from entering the atmosphere by sequestering it in the building for decades. In contrast, buildings made of steel and concrete generate large amounts of carbon emissions per tonne of material produced.

For example, the Brock Commons at UBC sequesters an estimated 1,753 tonnes of CO2. Research suggests that tall wooden buildings have a 20 per cent reduction in both their carbon and energy footprints.

These types of buildings could be important in helping Canada, and many other countries around the world, achieve net zero performance measures related to energy efficiency and overall carbon emissions that will be required in meeting future climate goals.

Workers build a Wood skyscraper at UBC
UBC’s Brock Commons floor structure contains cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels supported on glue-laminated timber (glulam) columns. The prefabricated panels shortened the on-site construction time. (KK Law/Naturally Wood/UBC)

Clear-cut solution?

The perception remains that tall wooden buildings less resistant to fire than a typical concrete and steel building. But the designs of these buildings meet stringent fire codes.

The U.S. National Fire Protection Association, in collaboration with Canada’s National Research Council, recently delivered a series of reports on the fire risk associated with tall wooden buildings, with particular focus on the behaviour of cross-laminated timbers or laminated veneer lumber.

Overall, their findings showed that tall wooden buildings can meet the minimum two-hour fire protection ratings required by most jurisdictions, if proper fireproofing materials and sprinklers are incorporated into the design. In the event of fire, the design minimizes danger in early stages, allowing inhabitants to escape and the fire to be brought under control.

Another challenge tall wooden buildings face is the environmental impact they may have on forests. If wood is not sourced from sustainable, responsibly managed forests, any benefit derived from the building itself would be offset by increased deforestation and habitat loss.

A number of tools, like the certification programs run by the Forest Stewardship Council or the Programme for the Endorsement of Wood Certification provide important third-party verification that forest harvests are done within a sustainable management regime; these schemes are constantly being reviewed to consider all aspects of forest sustainability, including carbon depletion in forest soils and impacts biodiversity. As tall wooden buildings take off, it is critical that the wood used in construction be sourced in an increasingly sustainable fashion.

Tall wooden buildings are likely to play an increasingly important role in our carbon mitigation strategies. Recent work suggests that shifting to wooden construction could act as an ever-increasing carbon sink, allowing more and more carbon to be sequestered safely in useful applications.

The crown for the tallest wood building will be hard to keep. In Tokyo, a proposal for a 350-metre tall, 70-storey building is currently vying for the title.

As architects, engineers and tradespeople become comfortable with these materials, tall wooden buildings will increasingly become a part of the urban landscape around the world.The Conversation


Warren Mabee, Director, Queen's Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy, Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Is DNA key to whether you get COVID-19?

Queen’s researcher leads Canadian arm of international project aiming to sequence the genomes of 100,000 COVID-19 patients to better understand their genes and the disease.

Artist's concept of DNA strands
New evidence may suggest more men get coronavirus than women has motivated an international hunt for which genes make people especially vulnerable or resistant to COVID-19. (Shutterstock)

The strength and health of one’s immune system is one key indicator of susceptibility to contracting pathogens, including the novel coronavirus. However, new evidence that may suggest more men get coronavirus than women has motivated an international hunt for which genes make people especially vulnerable or resistant to COVID-19.

Canada, in partnership with teams in the United Kingdom and the United States, hopes to contribute the fully decoded genomes of 10,000 COVID-19 patients to better understand the genes behind the disease – part of a global mission that’s aiming for 100,000 genomes. With support from the SEAMO (Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization), the Canadian arm of the project is being coordinated by David Maslove, Clinician Scientist with the Department of Medicine and Critical Care Program at Queen’s and intensive care doctor at Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

Dr. Maslove spoke to the Queen's Gazette about the potential links between DNA and coronavirus as well as the international project underway.

What is the suspected connection between DNA and coronavirus susceptibility?                                              

Previous studies have shown that susceptibility to infection may be, at least in part, genetically determined. For instance, large-scale, epidemiological studies show that likelihood of dying from an infection is at least five times more heritable than the likelihood of dying from cancer, even though we typically think of the latter, rather than the former, as a genetically determined condition.

The genes that control the immune system are some of the most diverse among humans, and lab studies have shown how different molecular characteristics influence the way in which people respond to infection. With respect to coronavirus in particular, early studies have identified some risk factors, such as age, hypertension, and diabetes, but these don’t appear to tell the whole story. Additional variability is seen in who gets a mild case, and who develops critical illness, with reason to suspect that some of that variability is determined by our genetics. 

Are there specific genes that make people more likely to be infected by coronavirus?

Early studies are beginning to shed some light on this, though the results remain preliminary. A European research group found associations between genes involved in determining blood type and the need for breathing support in COVID-19. Other groups have proposed that differences in the genetic regulation of ACE2 – a protein that the virus uses to gain entry into cells – may be associated with different outcomes for coronavirus patients. Others are looking to see if genetic differences in sex chromosomes (X and Y) may in part explain why early reports showed worse outcomes among males as compared to females. 

Drs. David Maslove and Michael Rauh
Drs. David Maslove and Michael Rauh have received funding from SEAMO to coordinate the Canadian arm of the GenOMICC study.

Are the reports that COVID-19 is more dangerous for men true?

Reports from some areas that have been hardest hit do suggest a higher mortality rate among men. Others are a little more equivocal. The reasons for these differences remain unclear. Genetics may play a role, since biological sex is genetically determined, though other factors may be important as well. 

If you can pinpoint the genes, will it lead to more treatment options?

This is our hope. Identifying specific genes means identifying the molecular pathways they influence. The hope is that these will yield important insights into how the coronavirus infects our cells, and how the body responds. This could lead to treatments that make susceptible people react more like those who are resistant to severe infection.

Can you tell me about the objectives of the GenOMICC study, the international initiative to fully decode the genomes of 100,000 COVID-19 patients? What is Canada’s contribution to this project?

Pinpointing the genetic determinants of COVID-19 will require sequencing the genomes of a great many patients – likely tens of thousands. There are large-scale coordinated efforts going on internationally to try to harmonize studies and get to these large sample sizes as quickly as possible. We at Queen’s are collaborating with researchers in the UK who have already sequenced genomes from about 2,500 patients there, through a research program called GenOMICC. Here at Queen’s, Dr. Michael Rauh and I have received funding from SEAMO to coordinate the Canadian arm of the GenOMICC study. We are also coordinating our efforts with a Canadian consortium that has benefited from federal funding to be used for this purpose. Canada has a key role to play because of our expertise in genomics, as well as a longstanding and internationally renowned track record of collaborative critical care research. 

Theatre companies pushing storytelling boundaries with online audiences

A woman wears a mask around her eyes as she looks at a computer
Coronavirus has accelerated moving theatre online and forces people to rethink what it means to be an audience member. (Shutterstock)

One night in April, I found myself holding my cat up to my laptop, eagerly showing her off to a group of strangers on Zoom. I was, in fact, an audience member immersed in a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest by Creation Theatre, based in Oxford, U.K.

Over the course of the show, produced entirely over Zoom, I was tasked with asking questions of the characters in a news conference, providing sound effects like bird squawks and stormy weather and holding up props (like my cat) when requested.

Given social-distancing protocols that prohibit physical gatherings, theatre makers have responded creatively to the COVID-19 pandemic by turning to online, digital and lo-fi or “non-embodied” modes of performance that use radio and phone.

This change in how to perform theatre has required a reconsideration of longstanding ideas of what it means to be a theatre audience member: How has access to theatre changed? What etiquette is expected? How have ideas of privacy and intimacy shifted?

Rise of alternate forms of theatre

Most obviously, streamed versions of pre-recorded theatrical productions have enjoyed great popularity. #JaneEyre became a trending topic on Twitter in April 2020 after the National Theatre in London, U.K., aired a recording on YouTube, with more than 4,600 tweets in the seven days after it streamed.

Digital analytics by the company OneFurther about online viewing of One Man Two Guvnors by Richard Bean, based on the 18th-century Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, count a staggering 2.6 million viewers over the course of one week. Such views are far beyond the seating capacity of a regular theatre building.

This increased access is especially important in light of growing awareness of inaccessibility in theatre more broadly. Some progress has been made to better welcome audience members with certain disabilities, especially in the advent of relaxed performances, which seeks to “relax” or loosen audience conventions in order to create more accessible theatre. But systemic issues of racism, classism and ableism continue to exclude many potential spectators.

Streaming and diversifying audiences

Shakespeare scholar Erin Sullivan cites the U.K. Arts Council’s report “From Live-to-Digital” to point to the potential of streamed performance to increase access to theatre: “Streaming does appear to attract younger, less wealthy and more ethnically diverse members of the population.”

What’s also notable about online performances is that, as an audience member, I can choose when, where and how to watch. Scholar Kirsty Sedgman, who studies theatre and performance audiences, has written extensively about audience etiquette and how such behavioural expectations are often exclusionary: you must be quiet, immobile and have singular focus. If you don’t, you need to leave.

Within the privacy of my own home, however, such rules are removed. I can eat, drink, talk and be on my phone — or so one would think.

Actress Gillian Anderson asked audience members to stay off their phones while watching the National Theatre’s streamed version of A Streetcar Named Desire, which she starred in at the Young Vic in London. She thereby tried to enforce public theatre behaviours in private.

Live-tweeting at performances already OK

That live-tweeting alongside performances is already a well-established practice means that expected audience behaviours must be renegotiated for online viewing.

A female actor wears clown-inspired makeup.
A still from the livestreamed drama ‘Blind Date’ by Spontaneous Theatre. (YouTube)

I, for instance, eagerly read the comments of my fellow audience members during a YouTube livestream of Blind Date, a show from Toronto-based Spontaneous Theatre centred on a virtual first date between Mimi (a French clown played by Rebecca Northan) and actor Wayne Brady.

The ways in which audience members can connect with each other in the absence of shared physical space means that virtual sites of conversation — like Twitter and the YouTube comments section — become vital.

Privacy unbound?

Finally, questions of privacy are also important. In The Tempest, I saw into several peoples’ homes, and watched them leave and return with snacks or get interrupted by their children and pets. The boundaries between public and private lives were blurred and I had a deeper awareness of my fellow spectators.

In a cleverly customized theatrical experience from Toronto’s Outside the March Theatre, a “detective” attempted to solve my possibly paranormal printer problems over the course of six phone calls. In this interactive performance experience called The Ministry of Mundane Mysteries, I was also asked to reveal aspects of my personal life: where I worked, what my hobbies were and so on.

As an audience member of such performances, I was asked to contribute and reveal more than I might sitting in the quiet darkness of a traditional theatre. This is not to say that audiences haven’t been active participants in theatre throughout history, but the visibility of such participation is made more evident by theatre’s move into private spaces.

Rethinking the future

A recent article in the New York Times suggests that the current explosion of digital theatre is merely a way of holding space before we can return to “real” theatre.

But this ignores the inventive responses of theatre artists who have shown that theatre is patently not tied to theatres: the presence of a public building is not a necessity for performance. Indeed, many artists were creating innovative online work long before the pandemic.

With theatres thinking about a return to physical spaces, it is worth considering how the “digital turn” will impact future spectator conventions and expectations. Renegotiated and re-imagined ideas of access, community and interactivity, borne out of necessity, are an opportunity to rethink theatre. These should not be ignored when the return to public spaces happens: rather, they should inform theatre’s future.The Conversation


Kelsey Jacobson, Assistant Professor, Dan School of Drama and Music, Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Queen’s education professor wins prestigious NSERC Science Promotion Prize

Lynda Colgan adds national research outreach award to a list of recognition for career achievements.

Lynda Colgan
Lynda Colgane (Education) has been awarded the 2020 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Science Promotion Award for individual achievement.

A distinguished mentor, researcher, and educator at Queen’s University has just been awarded the 2020 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Science Promotion Award for individual achievement. The award honours people and groups that are inspirational in the way they promote science to the general public. They are an opportunity for Canada's science community to recognize, support and encourage outstanding science promoters. 

The common denominator in Lynda Colgan’s research and passion has been to dispel the myth that math and science are hard, dead subjects that only certain people can do successfully. Dr. Colgan uses intuitive approaches and strategies to help educators see mathematics through the eyes of children.  

“The math and science experience have changed drastically over the years. Today, so many things are paid for with a debit or credit card, and cashiers are told by registers what change to give back to customers, resulting in them not counting the change for customers. Part of it is that there are many things happening around them that makes children actually believe that they don’t ever have to use math.” says Dr. Colgan, professor of elementary mathematics and coordinator of the  Education Community Outreach Centre, Faculty of Education.  

To respond to this need, her approach has evolved and expanded to include outreach, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, resulting in projects and products that search for creative avenues to engage both students, parents, and educators. 

“What I try to do is encourage everyone – family members included – to become math mentors and role models who ‘do’ math naturally and for real purposes every day, everywhere. I do this by creating and disseminating simple ‘unplugged’ STEM crafts, games and experiments to encourage, facilitate, reinforce and/or review important skills and STEM concepts on the go’ – in the car, the backyard, the park, the grocery store,” says Dr. Colgan.  

One of these initiatives is the highly successful Science Rendezvous Kingston, which is a celebration of STEM subjects and discoveries, scientists, and researchers featuring demonstrations, experiments and exhibits to bring people of all ages – toddlers to retirees – from across south-eastern Ontario into the world of science. Participation in Science Rendezvous Kingston has grown each year, as its reputation swells, from 650 to over 5,000 attendees in 2019, making it the most-attended Science Rendezvous event in Canada.  

“What we’re hoping is that we inspire a little curiosity,” says Dr. Colgan. “That we inspire that little niggle, that helps the kids to say, ‘I want to know more about that, I want to read about that, I want to do that,’ and, basically, that will grow.” Dr. Colgan, along with the other Science Rendezvous coordinator, Kim Garrett, won the STEAM BIG Award from NSERC in 2019, for outstanding contribution to a Science Rendezvous event. 

Prior to her appointment at Queen’s in 1998, Dr. Colgan was an award-winning educator with the Scarborough Board of Education for 25 years. During that time, she taught or held leadership and administrative positions at every educational level – elementary (K-6), intermediate (7-8), secondary (9-13), and post-secondary in roles centred around the integration of computer technology and mathematics. Throughout her tenure, Dr. Colgan has developed pivotal resources for the mathematics curriculum across Canada, including textbooks, research monographs and teacher and parent resource guides. 

Dr. Colgan was also awarded funding for a three-year NSERC PromoScience grant for a project called Learning with Dinosaurs: A gateway to multidisciplinary STEM learning. That project, in collaboration with Peter May and Research Casting International, seeks to revitalize educational resources about dinosaurs by disseminating museum-quality artifacts and interactive guided curriculum to provide hands-on STEM activities to improve Canadian teachers’ knowledge and student interest in the multidisciplinary field of paleontology, which includes biology, zoology, geology, chemistry and physics. 

She is also the recipient of an NSERC Promo Science Supplement Grant for Science Literacy Week. It will go to support a virtual author in residence program and is set to take place this September. 

Queen’s-affiliated research facilities receive more than $60 million in major science initiatives funding

The Canadian Cancer Trials Group, SNOLAB, and Canada’s National Design Network see funding increase through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s Major Sciences Initiatives fund.

At several national research facilities, scientists are tackling global research challenges and questions, including improving cancer treatments, elucidating dark matter, and advancing manufacturing technologies.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced close to $230 million in funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for 14 Major Science Initiatives (MSI) facilities based at 10 universities across the country. Three of these MSI facilities are affiliated with or based at Queen’s.

The MSI fund supports the operation of key national research initiatives by contributing to the ongoing operational and maintenance needs of these facilities. This new and renewed funding will support cutting-edge, collaborative, international research that is helping to power Canada’s scientific productivity and economic competitiveness, as well as allowing these groups to pivot to address the COVID-19 crisis. Of the almost $230-million increase to Canada’s MSIs, over $63 million will support Queen’s-affiliated facilities.

They are:

Canadian Cancer Trials Group ($3,825,000 – additional funds following mid-term review)

Based at Queen’s University, the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) is made up of more than 80 member institutions, comprising over 2,100 Canadian investigators who have facilitated the conduct of over 500 trials in more than 40 countries.  The Group consists of a network of clinical investigators from hospitals, universities, and cancer centres across Canada, and an Operations and Statistical Centre (OSC) at Queen's University. The OSC is comprised 140 faculty and staff within its research group and a management and administrative group that oversees all aspects of cancer trial development and conduct. The OSC is, in scope and scale, unique to cancer research in Canada. It provides operational and administrative support to conduct cancer trials and associated biological specimen research.

Over its 40-year history, CCTG has made many important contributions to cancer research. CCTG studies have improved the survival and quality of life of patients with cancer both in Canada and around the world by identifying multiple new treatments that have improved patient care. Importantly, CCTG has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by developing new clinical studies for cancer patients, including CCTG IC.8, a world-first clinical trial testing a novel immune-boosting strategy.

SNOLAB ($40,890,089 – renewed funding through to 2022-23)

Located 2 km below the surface, in the Vale Creighton Mine located near Sudbury, SNOLAB was born out of the Queen’s-led Sudbury Neutrino Observatory – for which Arthur McDonald was named co-recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics and winner of the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

SNOLAB provides a unique capability and competitive advantage for Canada, as it is one of only a handful of underground laboratories worldwide capable of supporting the current and future generations of subatomic and astroparticle physics experiments. These include the search for Galactic dark matter and the study of neutrino properties and sources.

Beyond the possible achievements in fundamental physics, projects at SNOLAB are developing new radiation and photo detectors that have application in medical imaging and national security, and teams are researching new mining and genomic innovations to improve productivity and health. Additionally, teams at SNOLAB are applying expertise in gas-handling and control systems used in dark matter experiments to design a simple, easy-to-build, ventilator as part of the international Mechanical Ventilator Milano project.

Canada’s National Design Network ($18,310,000 – renewed funding through to 2022-2023)

Canada’s National Design Network (CNDN), managed by CMC Microsystems, provides researchers with access to products and services for designing, prototyping, and testing their ideas. The continued funding will support researchers across the network by providing state-of-the-art commercial design tools, expertise, and industrial connections for research and development in advanced smart technologies.

The long-term goal of the CNDN is to foster Canadian leadership in advanced technology manufacturing and establish Canada as a global technology leader. Queen’s works with CMC Microsystems to manage CFI funds granted to Queen’s as part of Canada’s National Design Network.

Currently, CNDN is collaborating with researchers across the country, from the University of British Columbia in the west to Université Laval in the east, to develop nanotechnologies that could help in fighting the COVID-19 crisis.

“The Major Science Initiatives fund supports ongoing operations for a select group of national research hubs,” says Kimberly Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research). “Through our leadership in these initiatives, Queen’s researchers gain access to leading-edge infrastructure – aiding them in addressing some of the most important issues facing society, including the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

For more information on Canada’s Major Science Initiative facilities, visit the website.

An oasis during the pandemic

Oasis Without Walls program provides vital virtual support for seniors.

As with other public activities in Kingston and area, COVID-19 has forced many health and social programs to pivot and find new ways to deliver services. The Oasis Senior Supporting Living program, which was designed to promote healthy aging-in-place for seniors living in apartment buildings and other naturally occurring retirement communities, is no different. 

With the onset of COVID-19, the Oasis team has rapidly adapted its delivery model to maintain social connections while adhering to KFL&A Public Health’s physical distancing requirements. The new adapted program, Oasis Without Walls, continues to focus on the three Oasis pillars: socialization, nutrition, and physical activity. 

“When COVID-19 measures came in place, all Oasis programming sites were shut down for the safety of the members, and activities ended rather abruptly,” says Simone Parniak, Oasis project manager and Queen’s employee. “We quickly pivoted with the support of students and began calling each individual member in Kingston and Belleville to identify pressing needs, including lack of access to groceries and isolation and loneliness, particularly because many members could only communicate by telephone.” 

Conversations Confronting COVID-19: Aging
On Wednesday, July 22 at 11:30 am, Dr. Catherine Donnelly will join Dean Jane Philpott and other experts for Conversations Confronting COVID-19: Aging. The virtual discussion will address lessons learned about Canada’s elderly population during the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is free and open to the public. Register now.

Since 2018, Drs. Catherine Donnelly and Vince DePaul have partnered with the original Oasis members and board to spread this model to other communities in Ontario, including three apartment buildings in Kingston and one mobile home park in Quinte West. 

In early March 2020, there were approximately 170 total members at the newly-expanded sites, participating in face-to-face, group-based programs. On preliminary evaluation, compared to baseline, at six months post-implementation, fewer reported being lonely (33 vs 23 per cent), more members reported doing some physical activity (78.6 vs 83.4 per cent), and fewer reported multiple falls in the last six months (6.8 vs 18.2 per cent).  

In response to the pandemic, the Oasis program has coordinated a growing team (nine and counting) of undergrad and graduate students, and student volunteers from across Queen’s University to create and remotely deliver a variety of programs that best address the three Oasis pillars using virtual mechanisms (e.g Zoom, Skype, telephone). 

“The students have been instrumental in leading the development and delivery of Oasis Without Walls that keeps members well-connected and healthy,” says Dr. DePaul, Assistant Professor at the School of Rehabilitation Therapy. “Physical distancing has not had to mean social distancing.” 

The students began training members on Zoom and quickly compiled resources related to food, exercises and fun activities to beat boredom. They shared these with members by email or by telephone and organized weekly coffee chats for each community – an hour on Zoom each week for members to chat about current events and feel better connected to their neighbours. Student volunteers continue calling members each week to check in and make sure they are okay. 

“A lot of the feedback from members has been primarily around appreciating the check-in phone calls or emails, the zoom coffee chats and the weekly email updates,” says Carly Pappas, an occupational therapy student. “One of the calls that I think stuck out to me was when calling a member, I didn't realize her daughter was visiting and I was on speaker phone. Her daughter called out and said she really appreciated the calls and was so happy to hear that her mom is being thought of and supported. It’s the idea that these members are being thought of and that we are a resource for additional support if they were to need it.” 

In June, two physiotherapy students joined the team in a separate placement specifically exploring physical activity programming. They just launched Zoom exercise classes twice a week, exercise videos that will be shared on YouTube, and a fitness bingo to keep members active and engaged while staying safe in their own homes.  

Dr. Donnelly, Dr. DePaul and Parniak continue to develop programming for Oasis without Walls to be delivered by a dedicated group of students over the summer and into the fall. The Oasis team are in the midst of conducting a formal evaluation of the impact of the pandemic on Oasis members, and the potential of Oasis without Walls as a possible strategy suitable for scale up to other communities.    

For more information on the Oasis program, read the Queen’s Gazette story


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